present organization of officers. It will cause much dissatisfaction to require one third of the company officers to be taken from the sergeants, and may altogether defeat the enrollment of excellent companies. One of the very best Ohio regiments refuses to go for three years unless its officers remain.
WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington, May 30, 1861.
SIR: Your action in respect to the negroes who came within your lines from the service of the rebels is approved.*
The Department is sensible of the embarrassments which must surround officers conducting military operations in a State by the laws of which slavery is sanctioned.
The Government cannot recognize the rejection by any State of its Federal obligations, nor can it refuse the performance of the Federal obligations resting upon itself. Among these Federal obligations, however, no one can be more important than that of suppressing and dispersing armed combinations formed for the purpose of overthrowing its whole constitutional authority.
While, therefore, you will permit no interference by the persons under your command with the relations of persons held to service under the laws of any State, you will, on the other hand, so long as any State within which your military operations are conducted is under the control of such armed combinations, refrain from surrendering to alleged musters any persons who may come within your lines. You will employ such persons in the services to which they may be best adapted, keeping an account of the labor by them performed, of the value of it, and of the expense of their maintenance. The question of their final disposition will be reserved for future determination.+
Secretary of War.
EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, Indianapolis, Ind., May 30, 1861.
Honorable SIMON CAMERON,
Secretary of War:
SIR: The Honorable Sol. Meredith, the bearer of this dispatch, will present to you the condition of the arms held by the Eighth and Tenth Indiana Regiments. Rifles have been specially sent to Colonel Wallace's and Colonel Milroy's regiments. These regiments are no better in any respect than the others, and the special favor granted them has created intense dissatisfaction in the others, which are left, in great part, with old muskets altered from flint-locks. These special favors to the regiments named were obtained by Messrs. Colfax and Nelson. Mr. Nelson had no authority of any kind from me, and Mr. Colfax had instructions to procure arms generally, and not for any particular regiment. While I was very glad to have that number of good arms come into the State, yet the manner of their distribution has given rise to great trouble and
*See Butler to Scott, May 24 and 27, 1861, Series I, Vol. II, pp. 52, 648.
+Copies of this and of Cameron to Butler, August 8, 1861, on same subject, furnished to Brigadier General T. W. Sherman (commanding expedition to the coast of South Carolina), October 14, 1861.
See Series I, Vol. VI.